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Swarovski and Rockwell Take Center Stage at the 2009 Oscars

So the lights of the spectacularly bejeweled Kodak Theater are barely dim for the 2009 Oscars and victors Sean Penn (Best Actor for Milk), Kate Winslet (Best Actress for The Reader), and Producer Christian Colson (Best Picture for Slumdog Millionaire) have surely celebrated the night away and retired to their respective cozy confines, each newly adorned with a certain familiar gold-plated statuette.

2009 Oscars Curtain. Designed by David Rockwell and produced by Swarovski.

What most aficionados don't know, however, is that last night's Oscar winners also departed with a limited edition evening bag from the Atelier Swarovski accessory collection, designed by Corto Moltedo and adorned with the same Swarovski crystals as those of the Oscar Curtain. If you didn't watch last night's Oscar ceremony, you may not know whereof I speak (though you'll certainly hear of it soon); if you did see the Oscar show, however, you'll recognize the allusion to the 60 foot tall, 100 foot wide, three ton crystal curtain that was the eye-popping backdrop for dapper host Hugh Jackman and the accompanying profusion of tuxedo and gown-clad celebs.

A key component of New York architect David Rockwell's stage-design for the 2009 Oscars, the cascading glass backdrop was constituted of 6,000 one-meter-long hand crafted strands made of approximately 100,000 Swarovski crystals which had been jetted to Lalaland direct from Swarovski headquarters in Wattens, Austria. Paired with a floor that—through some nifty cinematic trickery—resembled the paving of Michaelangelo's Piazza del Campidoglio, the Swarovski curtain helped achieve a considerable re-vamping from the look of past Oscar years, a re-conceptualization Rockwell described as "redefining the show's DNA." This chromosomal alteration aspired towards Hollywood's Golden Age: an ethos of high-elegance and glitz, yes, but also great spontaneity and casual, high-spirited interchange—"more intimacy, less multiple layers of lamé," said Rockwell.

Rockwell was certainly familiar with the canvas: his Rockwell Group designed the Kodak Theater about nine years back. So intimate touches like the semi-circular stage, the fluted crystal chandeliers (descending from on high to create the impression of a low-ceilinged nightclub), and the displacement of the traditional red Oscar color scheme for a more casual palette of blues certainly jibed well with the venue.

As for Crystal Business V.P. and namesake Nadja Swarovski, add the Oscar Curtain to her voluminous portfolio of Swarovski-inspired set-pieces (see Love You Love You Not and Liquid Space). And as for Penn, Winslet, Slumdog Director Danny Boyle, and Best Supporting Actress Penelope Cruz, let's hope their future endeavors shine with all the clarity and purpose of a single Swarovski Crystal.

Posted February 23rd, 2009 by Joseph Starr


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